It’s not exactly a confidence booster when somebody gets introduced to an empty desk and ignores you completely.
This happened to me years ago, and it’s happened to other people I know, too. I was working at my desk when a manager tromped in with a high-level executive. I had heard that she would be bringing him around to acquaint him with everyone in the office.
Well, everyone important, anyway.
Passing me, she pointed to an empty desk and said, “And this is where Jenna sits. Jenna is our director of communications. She’s not here today.”
“Ah,” the executive said, marveling over Jenna’s deserted workstation. “Fascinating.”
I looked up with an eager grin, waiting to be introduced. The manager and executive stomped past me so that she could introduce him to another empty desk.
“This is where Tom sits,” the manager said, pointing. “Tom is our primary copy editor. He’s on extended leave in Hawaii.”
“Ah,” the executive said, nodding at the darkened computer screen and the swivel chair with no occupant. “Very nice.”
I continued to look up with the same eager grin pasted to my face. The manager and executive tromped past me and out of the room.
My eager grin slowly melted as their footsteps retreated down the hall.
I wasn’t quite sure what to glean from the experience. When an empty desk boasts a more vibrant social life than you, it makes you reconsider your place in the world.
To make matters worse, Jenna’s empty desk ended up getting the promotion I was gunning for, too. I knew something was up when I saw the custodian shoving the desk into the coveted corner office. Our manager made the announcement that Jenna’s empty desk would now be overseeing the entire department and reporting directly to the Assistant Vice President of Content Creation.
Jenna’s empty desk got a window overlooking the park behind our building. It also received a sizable bonus and some hefty stock options.
Tom’s empty desk ended up accepting a position in Corporate. They had to dismantle it so that it could be shipped to headquarters in New York City and reassembled. I understand that it’s on the fast track and on pace to become a junior partner.
As for me, I couldn’t compete with two empty workstations, so I left the company. I’m not sure anyone even noticed. As I left on my last day with my cardboard box full of stuff, my co-worker of three years asked if I could vacuum his workstation when I swept up that evening.
“Don’t you know who I am by now?” I asked, glaring.
He shook his head. “Sorry. You’re not ringing any bells. I guess we were never formally introduced. Didn’t the manager bring you around when you were hired?”
I never talk to anyone from my old office, but I heard that my old desk is doing well. Apparently, it’s been on the fast track since catching the attention of a high-level executive.